We’ve probably seen the last of any major trade and free agent news this NBA offseason. Kawhi Leonard was dealt to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan; Paul George elected to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder; DeMarcus Cousins signed a bargain deal with the Golden State Warriors; and Carmelo Anthony managed to finagle his way to $29.7 million and a contract with the Houston Rockets.
The NBA offseason seems like it gets more exciting every year. Nobody could have predicted the staggering amount of blockbuster deals we saw get done this summer. While we can certainly look forward to the 2018-19 season, there is an impressive list of high caliber free agents that will be available in the summer of 2019.
A plethora of teams will be looking to throw their names in the pot for a chance to sign an elite talent that could help them contend for a championship in the near future.
Here is a list of the top 10 free agents whose services may be available after next summer.
10. Kemba Walker
Walker’s time as the point guard of the Charlotte Hornets might be coming to an end soon. Walker is the team’s all-time leading scorer. Walker excels in change of pace and is an effortless shot creator.
As a two-time All-Star, he will be in high demand when his current contract expires at the end of this season. Many suspect that the New York Knicks will take their shot at the Bronx native. However, other teams have shown interest in the skills of the veteran scoring guard. Walker is likely to ask for a max deal next summer.
The Hornets have expressed that they would only trade him for an All-Star. After not trading Walker at the deadline, they will have to be prepared to sign him long term, or let him walk for nothing and focus on developing their young talent.
You probably didn’t expect to see this 6-foot-8 swingman this high on the list, but let’s face it, Middleton is one of the most underrated young players in today’s game.
He spent his first season with the Detroits Pistons. Since then, he’s spent five seasons playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. Middleton went down for the season with an ACL tear in the 2016-17 season, but returned the next year to average a career high of 20.1 points. Three-and-D players like Middleton are highly valued. He is continuing to improve as a shooter and his 6-foot-11 wingspan gives him tons of defensive potential.
8. DeMarcus Cousins
It’s no secret that DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most skilled big men the NBA has ever seen. His $5.3 million deal with the Warriors is only good for one year. The only thing that makes signing Cousins questionable is his strong personality and the intensity of the Achilles injury he is currently recovering from. He worked well with Anthony Davis last season to form the NBA’s best frontcourt. He has the potential to transform any team that has assets he can collaborate with.
Thompson is undoubtedly one of the best shooters in the world. His form his flawless, his release is quick and he has high efficiency. Thompson averaged 20 points per game last year for the Warriors, but he also recorded career highs in field goal percentage (48.8) and 3-point percentage (44).
This member of the original three-headed monster in the San Francisco Bay Area will be up for a major payday in 2019. He has benefited from having superstar players around him and may be tempted to go for a max deal if he is offered one next summer.
His father, former NBA player Mychal Thompson, says he expects his son to retire with the Warriors. Thompson may be an elite defender and shooter, but he will have to prove he can strive in a situation where he is the first offensive option. Nevertheless, teams will have him on their shortlist of players they want to contact next year.
6. Kristaps Porzingis (Restricted)
Porzingis is a unicorn. His combination of speed, length, shooting, defense and ball handling is something you won’t often find in a player that is 7-foot-3. The 23-year-old power forward averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists last season before he was sidelined by an ACL tear halfway through the season.
The Mavericks will almost certainly offer Porzingis a max deal that will make him a restricted free agent in 2019. By the small chance this doesn’t happen, teams will swarm to sign him.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns (restricted)
Towns is another player that probably won’t be up for grabs next season. This 7-footer has guard skills and has given fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves something to be excited about. Last year, 29 percent of NBA general managers named Towns as the player they would pick to build a franchise around in an NBA.com survey. LeBron James finished third in this poll, receiving 18 percent of the votes.
While Towns isn’t as talented as James, he has a high ceiling and can fit in on any team in the league. The Timberwolves recognize Towns’ worth and will likely try to get him to sign an extension before the 2018-19 season comes to a close. Teams will likely have to wait a little longer for a shot to get a chance at him, but hey, anything could happen.
4. Jimmy Butler
Butler is expected to decline his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers to become a free agent next season.
The team that signs Butler will get one of the best two-way way players in the NBA with unmatched competitiveness. There’s no way to tell where he will fall, but the Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be the frontrunner.
3. Kyrie Irving
True basketball fans know that Irving has the best ball handling skills the NBA has ever seen. When he was dealt to the Boston Celtics in a trade for Isaiah Thomas, the entire league was shocked. His team is loaded with talent and finished second in the Eastern Conference last year.
Unfortunately, Irving’s late season knee surgery made him ineligible to participate in the playoffs. Celtics leadership is unsure about his future with the franchise. The Knicks are rumored to be one of his desired destinations.
2. Kawhi Leonard
Not many expected this former NBA Finals MVP to be traded this offseason. Leonard was unsatisfied with the way the San Antonio Spurs handled the injuries that kept him out for the majority of the 2017-18 season. At his best, he is the best two-way player in basketball.
He played limited minutes last year, but he has used this season with the Raptors to showcase his ability to guard all five positions and score effectively. Leonard is expected to return home and play alongside LeBron James next year, but there are also rumors that he doesn’t want to play with the King. NBA fans would love to see what these two amazing athletes could do on the same time. Who knows, maybe the Raptors will be able to entice him into staying with the team for longer.
1. Kevin Durant
Durant is expected to claim the king’s throne and be crowned the best basketball player in the world soon. After making his highly criticized jump to the Warriors, he has become a two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. What could possibly come next for Durant?
He has rings, championships, and MVP honors. Critics say he has tarnished his legacy my joining the team that knocked his Thunder out of the playoffs in 2016. We can’t completely rule out Durant making a return to Oklahoma City to reunite with Russell Westbrook. His contract is the way it is so he can have options. Everyone will have to wait and see what he decides to do after his third season with the Warriors this year.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of excitement surrounding the impending trades and free agent signings that will take place in 2019. Time will tell who’s playing checkers and who’s playing chess.